Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any fees to apply through Cast-A-Way?

No. Cast-A-Way does not charge any application, recruitment or placement fees in compliance with (MLC) International Maritime Law. Some optional services may be offered occasionally with a small fee that will be advised to you prior to your decision to use that service.

How much time will take from my application to me boarding the ship?

The process can vary from 4 weeks to 1 year depending on many variables.

  1. You will only be contacted by a recruiter if the position that you applied for is open at the time of the application. If this position that you qualify for is not open at this time, you will only be contacted once the cruise line asks for more people for that position.
  2. You will only be contacted by a recruiter if you qualify for any open position. If you do not meet the requirements of any position onboard, you may not be notified.
  3. You will only be contacted if you meet the client’s criteria for each position. If you have great experience in a field but is willing to change department, you may not qualify for the new position you want to start on. It’s simply because there is very little time for training onboard, it’s very fast paced and all crew members must have some sort or recent and related experience to the job they are applying for.
  4. Some positions may also require specific certifications. You may or may not be given time to obtain them.

How much notice will I get if I am hired?

The amount of notice you may get can vary. Positions are always coming up, some sooner than others. Emergency positions do come up that may only leave you with a few days notice, so be prepared!!! We will always try to give the crewmember as much notice as possible and will liaison for you as much as we can. If you have a commitment already scheduled, we highly recommend that you mention that very early in the process so we can ensure to have it in writing and be able to negotiate for you to start at a later date, after your commitment. Examples: weddings, court dates, family members surgery, pre-paid family vacation, resignation notice at work based on your country labor laws. For most employers, there is a maximum amount of time from your job offer for you to board. ONCE you get the news that you got the job, get ready as soon as possible!!! Your recruiter will guide you through the process. Ensure to check your emails and phone daily.

Can I make phone calls from the ship?

There are phones on board. However, we recommend using them for emergency only. They are usually much more expensive than a land line phone as they operate on satellite. Some vessels will have crew phones set up at a reduced rate. You will have access to crew calling centers at mostly every port. Some companies will also offer calling cards are reduced rates. Some veteran crew members will also share other options for the itinerary you are, such as getting a local chip / sin card.

Do I have to wear a uniform?

Yes. Your uniform is supplied by the cruise line and will be given to you upon arrival to the ship. Upon a job offer, you will be asked to provide sizes in a timely manner so it’s ready for you once you get onboard. You may be required to purchase or bring shoes to match with the uniform given by the company.

How long are the contracts for?

Contracts can vary between 4 to 8 months depending on which cruise line you will be working for and position. After each contract, you will have a work break that can range from 4-8 weeks. Work breaks are usually not paid, so be sure to put some money away for your “time off”. You may request to shorten your break or extend, but it need to be confirmed by the Human Resources department, your manager and the schedulers in advance. Breaks can be up to months on exception cases but if you pass months, you will be considered a new employee upon return and require to re-apply and may lose benefits such as “time counted towards retirement packages” that some companies offer.

How will I get paid?

TDepending on the cruise line, you may be paid bi-weekly or monthly. You will need to take some emergency cash (recommended at least U$300) if you get any travel disruptions when heading to the ship. Employer will not cover those costs with meals or transportation or missed flights.

In most cases you will be paid in U.S. cash or through a debit card provided to you by the company named “ocean pay”. See image below.

What about taxes?

Income taxes are only withheld for American Citizens. As every country has different tax laws, we suggest you consult an accountant to find out your tax obligations. For most countries, income made on international waters may not be taxable. If that’s the case for you, that’s an additional benefit! (please check with your revenue agency)

What do I do about banking?

You have a few options: you can open an account in your homeport (some companies allow). We suggest making money orders and sending them home to either a family member, a friend or directly to your bank. Some crew members opt for Western Union or similar services, It is probably the smartest and safest option. Many cruise lines have their own bank accounts and you can easily transfer between your cruise account and your bank account back home. Or you can keep your salary in your “Ocean Pay” and withdraw prior to going home.

How to expect your salary

Let’s use an example here. You were informed that your salary will be U$1600 monthly while on probation.
You will divide U$1600 by 30 days >>>> U$53.33 per day.
Payments are made every 2 weeks for most companies. So you will multiply this daily rate X 14 >>> U$746.66.
U$746.66 X 2 = U$ 1,493.33
Note that you got paid 28 days, and the next 2 days to complete the U$100 will come on the next pay / next month.
Eventually at least one time during your contract you will get paid 3 X in that month, compensating for those “days”.
Example: You will get paid on Day 1 / again on Day 15 / again on Day 29.

Who do I work for?

The cruise line or concession that hires you will be your employer, with whom you will sign your “Seafarer’s Agreement” or Independent Agreement (if with a concession). Please take notice that all cruise lines have different rules and regulations that need to be followed. Failure to do so can result in dismissal. The agency is just an intermediary to assist candidates throughout the hiring process and is paid by the cruise line for its selection and administrative pre-boarding support. As in any land based job, there is a 90-days probation period for which the company may decide to terminate your contract with no cause if they deem that you are not a good fit for the job or if your performance is not as expected.

If you get terminated (at cause or no cause), you will get very few hours of notice to pack and go to the airport. It’s mandatory by immigration rules that any crew member been terminated is escorted by an official to the boarding gate. No exceptions apply. You will be notified by your manager and HR Director of the reasons of your termination and you should ask any questions at this time. The cruise line or concession will pay for your ticket back home at this time and pay you any outstanding salary.

How often will I be working?

With exception of singers, dancers, musicians and the doctors onboard you can expect to work 7 days/week (with no days off) and anywhere from 8-12 hours/day. Steiner Spa employees will work 5 1/2 days/week and 10 hours/day.

As per IMO (International Maritime Organization) and MLC (Maritime Labor Convention), you are entitled to a break for every 6 hours of work and you must get at least 10 hours of rest for each 24 hours, that can be in 2 shifts or straight with a small break. For some positions, there are rotations that may include night shifts, as for nurses, doctors, GSAs, security. For some positions, you will be given a “radio phone” and will be “on call”. If needed, you will be contacted and must report immediately to resolve the “issue”.

You will be required to clock in and clock out. If you forget, you will need to see your manager to adjust your working hours report.

What about my flight to the ship?

Your flight to the ship may or may not be provided by the cruise line. Depending on the company policy, you may have to pay your way there, and upon completion of your contract, they will fly you home at no cost. In some “rare” cases, cruise lines require you to pay your flight there, and upon completion of your contract, you will be reimbursed your flight and flown home. For Management positions and Entertainment positions, some cruise lines and concessions will pay your flight to and from the ship.

Can I get mail?

Every ship has an address and you can get this address upon your arrival at the ship, at the MSA or Crew Services Office. If not, you will receive the information onboard. Keep in mind that it may take longer than when you are on land.

What am I responsible for as far as living expenses?

All your food and accommodations are provided free of cost. Cruise lines also provide medical insurance while under contract (onboard) but not while you are on vacation out of the ship. You will be required to pay for any incidentals, souvenirs, as well as any alcoholic beverages, personal internet usage and phone calls. Discounted rates are provided for crew members for Shore Excursions, Duty Free, Spa Services.

Do I share a cabin?

Except for managers, directors, captains, doctors, engineers / officers, all the cabins are small and compact and are shared with one other person of the same gender. In some instances you may have to share with up to three people. Most cabins have a bathroom; however, some bathroom facilities can be shared by up to four people. The cabins are cleaned with linen changed weekly by your cabin steward, except embarkation days.

While it’s not mandatory, it’s common practice that all staff positions tip the cabin stewards that are cleaning your cabin, making your bed daily, washing your uniform. Those services are not offered for “crew positions”. Tips of U$20 or more are recommended for every pay cheque you receive.

Can I do laundry on the ship?

Yes. You may have access to laundry facilities (most ships have a crew laundry free facility open 24 hours per day) or a service will be offered for a nominal fee. Depending on position and company, uniform free laundry may be offered for staff and officers.

Do I have to have a medical before I get on board?

Yes. You have to complete a medical prior to leaving for the ship. This is an IMO requirement on your best interest, you must be healthy as per their guidelines and for your own safety as you will be in an environment that may impose extra stress and be far away most of the time from the coast. The employer will do everything they can to save your life and keep you healthy, but it’s important that you pass this Medical certification and obtain our FIT FOR DUTY from a PRE-APPROVED FACILITY only.

As per IMO, you may not be able to obtain a job onboard a ship if:
  • You are pregnant
  • You suffer from certain heart diseases or have suffered stroke, epilepsy, heart attacks, severe diabetes depending on insulin, have been hospitalized in the past year for any severe health issues that could be life threatening.
  • Have hip replacement, has had back issues or join surgeries recently, is under physiotherapy, cannot carry weight or walk / stand for long hours

All those conditions will need to be analyzed by approved physicians that will base their decisions on many variables. If you have a condition that worries you, please ask your recruiter for the closest approved facility information so you can confirm with them if that concern may refrain you from pertaining this job onboard.

The medical is a thorough exam that involves taking blood tests, urinalysis, blood pressure, eye, hearing and lung function tests, as well as a chest x-ray. They are testing that you are physically fit to work on board. Please note that a drug test will also be conducted as ships are 100 % drug free environment, no exceptions apply. Failure of the medical or drug test will result in a “non-fit for duty” certificate or the termination of your contract (if you are already onboard). In most cases, it is your responsibility to pay for your medical exam and the cost may vary from U$140 to U$900 depending on your country and if you need extra exams from the usual list. Some clinics may also charge for vaccines that are required, if you did not take them or if you cannot prove you took them.

Do I need a Visa to work on ships?

Yes and there are many types of visas, depending on the ship you get assigned and it’s itinerary.

Unless you are American or Canadian, you will need a C1D Visa (crew member / transit visas) if your home port is in the USA. It will cost U$160 or U$320 depending on your citizenship. Keep the receive, this will be reimbursed by your employer once you get onboard. If you do not have the original receipt, you will not be reimbursed.

You will fill out an online application, pay the fee and schedule your appointment only once you got the job offer, met the conditions of the job offer (Police Background Check and Medical Fit for Duty) and receive your LOE (letter of employment). The availability may vary from country to country, so we will advise you when to go ahead and book your interview. Once it’s approved, it may take from 3 to 10 business days, also depending on your country. Exceptions may occur in that they need additional time to process investigations and it may be delayed, but those cases are rare.

If your ship will stop in Canada, you might need a transit, tourist or eTA to enter Canada – may have a cost.

If your ship will depart from or stop in Australia, you may need a MCV and transit visa to Australia (online, free of cost).

For some countries, you may also be required SWENGEN visa (for some European countries) or other country visas, depending once again on your ship’s itinerary. We will guide you through once it’s time! If you already have a visa, it must be valid for at least the entire duration of your contract + 3 months. The same applies for your passport.

Can I chose my ship and itinerary?

Usually you cannot for your first contract. You must accept the position that is offered based on your employer’s demands and operational needs. Some companies will offer you options from your 2nd contract and on.

Will I need to take STCW (The Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping for Seafarers)?

Some Cruise Lines will require that you take it on land prior to joining your ship. For some countries, it must be stamped by your Marine Coast Guard and you must carry the originals. You will pay for your course that will be valid or years and you will not be reimbursed for it. Some exceptions apply for companies that will offer the training onboard and at free of coast. Not all employers will be able to accept the online training. Ask your recruiter before you invest in the wrong program. This should be discussed with you during your interview depending on that position / cruise line or concession you will be referred to after your testing, interview and reference check.

Can I get off the ship while in port

Of course, you can! When you have free time during the day you can get off the ship and do what you please, providing that you are not scheduled to work and that you are back on board by the required time. Usually in the beginning of the contract there will be a lot of training (on the job or mandatory security trainings and drills) so you might have short windows of time that you can “sneak out”. Later in your contract you may be able to get a “full day” out and start your shift after 3pm or 4pm or pm. Of course that will also depend on your department, your manager, how many people work in your department and if you are keeping up with your duties on time!

Can we socialize with the passengers?

Socializing depends on your position. It may be an integral part of your job, although it is important to note that fraternization with passengers is cause for immediate dismissal. Passengers are not allowed in crew areas and crewmembers are expressively prohibited in guests cabins.

Can we drink in the lounges/nightclub?

Some positions have "guests’ privileges" and some may not. If you don’t, you are not permitted to be in passenger areas when you are off duty. Positions that usually have deck privileges, such as cruise staff, youth staff, merchandise, pursers, GSAs, Shorex, entertainers, casino and more are able to socialize with passengers in the lounges until your set curfew which will be given to you when you get onboard. Some ships do not allow staff to drink alcohol in passenger areas. Should you be found drunk while on duty or too drunk to perform emergency procedures, this will result in automatic dismissal.

Can we smoke in passenger areas?

As a rule you cannot smoke in any passenger areas. Your general manager will define this rule in more detail when you arrive on the ship. There are crew smoking areas.

Is there a crew bar onboard?

Yes. The crew bar serves drinks until a set time, which may vary from ship to ship. It is where you can relax and socialize out of sight of the passengers. However, some cruise lines will have more strict drinking policies and may have very low to zero alcohol tolerance.

Can we use the gym?

Yes, as a rule you can use the gym, as long as you are not depriving any passengers of the facilities. There is thou a crew only gym open 24 hours per day.

Can we use the swimming pool?

As a rule aboard most ships, you are not permitted to use the pool. Anytime that you would have to use the pool, you will probably also be able to get off the ship and sightsee, go to the beach or shop in port!!

Where can the crew sunbathe?

There will be designated areas for the crew to sunbathe, usually in the back of the ship. You will be informed during orientation.

Can my family or friends come to visit?

Of course, they can! Every cruise line has its own policies about visitors. There are discounts and it is usually based on availability.

Will I enjoy working for the cruise industry?

If you are a committed, hard-working fun-loving team player, then you will have the time of your life! There is no other job that can give you so much experience and knowledge of the travel industry. The things you’ll see, do and learn along with the many new friends you’ll meet from all over the world will stay with you forever. It is truly an unforgettable experience. Your confidence as a crewmember can only increase as each week goes by, and we at CAST-A-WAY constantly encourage our crew to develop their existing skills and learn new ones whilst onboard. Most people need approximately 4-8 weeks to settle in and feel comfortable in your new surroundings. All we can say is "hang in there" - it’s worth it!!! After the first 2 months you will truly start to enjoy and when you less expect, you will be half of your contract. Then you will blink and the contract has finished!

Certainly, SHIPLIFE is not for everyone. If you like routine, if you have never been far away from home and normally miss family, if you prefer to do things your way and on your own time, this may not be the right job for you.

You must be very resilient, flexible and have plenty of energy, enjoy working in a team, be pro-active, resourceful, coachable, the type of person that can never be bored, then you will have a blast! There is not one day that is the same to the other, and mostly when you are not working you will be having fun with your new friends!

Good luck and have fun!